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The Fragrance of Righteousness

I love the sweet fragrance of baked sweets. I remember a time I walked into the grocery store’s bakery, only to be met with different mix fragrances of baked goods. I couldn’t explain it, but the fragrance made me inexplicably happy. Maybe because the smell of cake reminded me of all the times my mother would buy me cake to celebrate my birthday. Nonetheless, aromas and fragrances have a way to evoke emotions, nostalgia, and memories.

Similarly, I wondered if God feels the same way when righteousness ascends to Him? Is He filled with joy, delight, and memories associated with our desire to please him or are there certain smells that bring about pungent odors of distaste?

God’s Holiness

In the Old Testament, God commanded the Levites to be the priest to be in charge of burnt offerings, spices and incense - all of which had distinct reasons. Such as Sin offering , burnt offering, fellowship offering grain offering, wave offering and more.

All of these different offerings bore specific fragrances to God. “These were so pure and sacred that any deviation from what he explicitly commanded would be met with death”. As Nadab and Abihu found out. To make sense of this, Moses had to remind Aaron the word of God concerning what just happened.

“Among those who approach me

I will be proved holy;

in the sight of all the people

I will be honored.’”

God takes this very serious because He is integral about His holiness. As we love great aromas and memories God wants to be met and be reminded of His holiness through our offerings. The only problem then was that these types of offerings only temporarily blocked out the undeniable odor of sin.

What is an odor to God?

If you ever walked into a retirement home or hospice there is a certain fragrance that follows throughout the building. I personally dislike being in places like this because it's almost as if you can get a whiff of sickness and death.

When we are met with smells like this it brings about unpleasantness. I’m sure the stench of sin is what God smells as an odor of wickedness. So much so, that He once regretted that He made humans (Genesis 6:5-6)


God then chose to bring a flood on the earth to wipe away wickedness except for Noah and his family. What surprised me was what happened after the flood. Noah built an altar to the Lord and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma He said in His heart never again will I curse the ground.(Genesis 8:20-21)

It was as if God got cleaned the world as we would a dirty home. He wiped away any remnant of odor to assure nothing would be left except the smell of righteousness.

Jesus’s atonement fragrance

Just as the flood, Christ’s sacrifice on the cross not only covered our sin but also the stench of it with the fragrance of righteousness. (Ephesians 5:2) Thankfully because of Christ, He is blotting out any odor that may come from our sin. (2 Corinthians 2:15-16).

That is why without Christ we are rotting to death spiritually and God can smell that on us. However, when we choose to serve Jesus Christ. There is an aroma that follows. It is important for us to spread the Gospel of Jesus in order for the world to smell good in God’s presence. (2 Corinthians 2:14)

Jesus’s atonement reintroduced God’s holiness into our lives. Jesus’s sacrifice was for a permanent lasting aroma. (Hebrews 10:11-14) As Jesus’s great aroma continues to ascend to heaven for God to breathe in. Think of your life also, does it smell good before God?


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